crickets mealwormseggs honeysquash flowers fruits and vegetables

 

 

 

 

A sugar glider’s natural diet is very wide and diverse because they are opportunistic omnivores. In the wild, their main diet consists of insects, arachnids, bird eggs, honey, tree gum/nectar/sap, flowers/pollen, and even small vertebrates such as rodents, lizards, and birds. During the spring and summer months, their diet consists almost entirely of foods high in protein to provide them energy for foraging and reproduction. In the fall and winter, they focus on foods high in sugar and fats so they can gain weight and go into torpor for the winter. Wild sugar gliders consume 15-20% of their body weight but they also expend a lot of energy to find food and raise joeys. Pet sugar gliders don't need to consume as much food because food is easily accessible and they don't expend nearly as much energy foraging for it. Your sugar glider’s diet should typically consist of 50% protein, 25% fruit, and 25% vegetables as well as a 2:1 Calcium to Phosphorous ratio.

Providing the proper nutrition is a vital part to your sugar glider’s happiness and health. A bad diet can result in stained/cracked fur, very bad smell, nutritional deficiencies, unfriendly personalities that are harder to bond with, and unhealthy weight. Overall a bad diet can lead to some serious vet bills, unhappy ownership, or a short-lived/dead glider. Sugar gliders fed a properly balanced and healthy diet are active, friendly, have a healthy weight, extremely soft fur, and do not smell (provided the cages are regularly cleaned).

In captivity, gliders can suffer from nutritional deficiencies such as Hypocalcemia aka Hind Leg Paralysis (HLP). Some foods are high in phosphorous and low in calcium. When a glider doesn’t consume enough calcium, their body leaches the calcium from the bones to make up for the lack of calcium needed for digestion and other metabolic processes in the body. As more calcium is stolen, the bones become thin and brittle to the point where they can’t support their own weight and your glider will gradually lose mobility starting with the hind legs. Hind Leg Paralysis is also usually accompanied by a parasitic or bacterial infection and if the condition is not addressed it can lead to death. If the condition is caught early enough, your vet can prescribe an antibiotic or antiparasitic medicine as well as an oral calcium supplement to treat the condition. Alternatively, too much calcium can lead to kidney stones, gall stones, crystals in the urine, and calcium deposits on the joints, bones, organs, and muscles.

Another issue to avoid is that pet sugar gliders can easily gain too much weight due to high amounts of sugar or fat in their diet. Honey and nuts do make great bonding treats but shouldn't be fed on a frequent basis because of their high amounts of sugar and fats. Nutritional imbalances can also occur when a sugar glider gets too picky on what food/treats it prefers. This typically happens when they get fed the same food/treats too often. Sugar gliders need to have a large ever-changing variety of food so that they don't fixate on one favorite food and leave the rest untouched. You can ensure that they get a proper balance of nutrients in their diet by routinely rotating through different varieties of food. We typically give them at least 3 different types of fruits and veggies daily while rotating through different types for variety.

The 4 most important things to remember in choosing a diet for your gliders are:

1. Staple diet must consist of at least 25% protein

2. Clean, fresh water must be freely available at all times

3. Maintain a 2:1 calcium to phosphorous ratio

4. Limit fats and sweets

Protein is the most important part for a sugar glider’s diet because it is the main source of energy for foraging and reproduction. Breeding females especially need that extra protein boost so that they have enough protein to provide for joeys and themselves. Breeding females may resort to cannibalizing their joeys due to a protein deficiency. Most owners shrink at the mention (and cleaning up afterwards) of feeding their gliders pinky mice and young chicks so most opt for using cooked and unseasoned meats (like chicken), scrambled/boiled eggs, as well as live or dehydrated insects as a source of protein.

Water is easy enough to provide using water bottles or shallow bowls. Clean, fresh water should be easily accessible and available at all times. Gliders can dehydrate and die quickly without a source of fresh and easily accessible source of water. Always change out water bowls on a daily basis and water bottles at least at a weekly basis to ensure fresh, clean water. Water bowls should be small and shallow to prevent your glider from accidentally drowning. Placing water bowls higher up in the cage will help to keep the water clean from droppings. Also check to make sure the ball in the water bottles doesn’t get stuck due to sediment buildup or calcification from hard/unfiltered water. We give ours filtered water to ensure it is safe and clean. Adding Glideraide to their water is both unnecessary and not recommended due to the high sugar content, unspecified amounts of vitamins that can unbalance your glider’s nutritional health, and their drinking containers will be more prone to molding issues. If your water bottles start to mold you will need to replace them. This is never an issue with only using water.

Maintaining a 2:1 calcium to phosphorous ratio is important to prevent nutritional deficiencies that can lead to health issues and possibly death. Sugar gliders love a wide variety of fruits and vegetables but many of them are higher in phosphorous than calcium. Phosphorous inhibits the absorption of calcium and most foods are higher in phosphorous than calcium. If you find that your glider doesn’t have enough calcium in their diet, you can boost it by using calcium powder such as Glider-Cal or Rep-Cal. Calcium powder can be coated onto treats such as live insects or just sprinkled over their fruits and veggies. For your convenience, we put together a chart that shows the nutritional ratios of different foods and treats under “Nutritional Info” to better assist you with mixing up different food combos.

Sugar gliders have a huge sweet tooth and cannot moderate themselves when presented with treats. Therefore, you will need to moderate how many treats they get and how often they get it to make sure they don’t get fat. Chubby sugar gliders are extremely adorable but obesity is not good for their health and can drastically shorten their lifespan due to health problems. Health problems also lead to expensive vet bills. You can give small amounts of treats as well as rotate through a variety of different types of treats to better moderate their weight while keeping them happy.

sugar glider eating cricketsugar glider eating pecanHoney, crickets, mealworms, yogurt drops, nuts, and flowers (see approved list for edible flowers in links) make for great bonding treats.